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09-23-2013, 08:32 AM   #1
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Most reliable Pentax 35mm bodies?

So other than the K1000, how is the reliability of the other 35mm models? My A3000 - which I just got off Craigslist a couple months ago, mostly for the lenses - now has a broken shutter and I don't think it's worth fixing. I'd rather have something with full manual control anyway - when I got the A3000 I didn't think I would be shooting film so I did not really care what type of body it was. But now I am interested in film and I'm looking at a ZX-M that a friend of mine might give to me, but from what I could tell in my searches, it is only a matter of time until its plastic shutter mechanism dies. I would rather have something more reliable, but at least until then the ZX-M might have to do. There is an LX for sale locally but it is a bit pricey and my research tells me it is not a reliable body either (though very nice to use!). Also, an ME Super but it is also a bit pricey for a local unwarrantied sale. Does the ZX-5n have the same issue with the plastic construction? I have been looking at those as well (on Ebay - scary...)
I might just wait for a K1000. And I have to admit that I have also been looking at a cheap Minolta system - apparently they are really reliable, and the lens are quite cheaper than Pentax due to obsolescence... while being at least comparable in quality.

09-23-2013, 09:01 AM   #2
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Over 35 years with Pentax and Ricoh K's, I would say the Ricohs are more reliable.
I would recommend one of the later model basic manual Rickoh K mount bodies- the materials were better and haven't deteriorated so much.
You can use any K lenses then.

Ricoh K lenses are lower cost than Pentax K but the selection is not so plentiful. I would like a Rikenon P24~40mm f/2.8, but I never seen one for sale.
Also with old cameras ( and even dslrs) , I think it is good to exercise all functions every few months - keeps the electrical contacts and mechanisms freed up.
09-23-2013, 09:07 AM   #3
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I have 3 Ricoh lenses (one is branded Sears). I love them, as my signature says! So I'm definitely open to buying a Ricoh camera. The one I seem to come across sometimes is the KR-5 super II.
And I would LOVE to have a GR-1, just for kicks.
09-23-2013, 09:36 AM   #4
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The Pentax K Series KX or KM are very reliable.

Phil.

09-23-2013, 09:46 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
I'd rather have something with full manual control anyway
If you mean the camera can operate without a battery (of course you will need to meter with a hand held meter) then you are more limited - the MESuper won't do, for instance, even though it can be used in manual modes with a battery.

Freely stating - this is my OPINION on mechanical Pentax bodies

In addition to the venerable K1000 I have experience with KM and KX bodies, and MX. They have the advantages of being primarily metal internals meaning they are durable and can be CLA'ed and brought back to spec. fairly easily. All of them operate full-manual without a battery. I'd try to find a nice KM and have it CLA'ed - you'll get 20 years out of it for $125 all-in or less.

The higher spec cameras such as K2 and LX (had them), and some of the more AE consumer oriented models (MESuper, SuperPROGRAM) are wonderful cameras but work best with their electronics enabled. As I've moved into the later 80's and 90's cameras (SF, A, Z/PZ, MZ series) I've either been disappointed or found them too expensive (MZ-S).

I guarantee people will psot after me who disagree and will tell you why - that's why the Forum exists!!
09-23-2013, 09:57 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
The one I seem to come across sometimes is the KR-5 super II.
That is my main camera. I got it from a pawn shop in about 1990. It probably has 500,000 frequent flyer miles, its claim to fame, it fell off a catwalk in a steel mill without damage at all.
For a few years I traveled with a Pentax dslr, but I never really got used to the aps-c, I like the 35mm format and film is more fun, so as of 2010, ...back on the old Ricoh!
09-23-2013, 11:12 AM   #7
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I think it's more practical to put one or two LR44 batteries in the camera if they die, than to have to pull out a separate light meter...

The thing I liked about the A3000 was the use of AA batteries. I always have those at home.

That KR-5 super II with the 1/2000 shutter does sound pretty sweet, and there's a couple on the Goodwill site right now...
09-23-2013, 11:33 AM   #8
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I'd say the SV is hard to beat for reliability.

09-23-2013, 11:36 AM   #9
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I should have mentioned it's for K-mount. I only have K-mount lenses

Research for the KR-5 shows it's a very entry level camera in its build and feel... I probably won't be able to try one before I buy it so that concerns me a bit.
09-23-2013, 11:48 AM   #10
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Ricoh XR_2 is an older one, bigger and with a lot of bells and whistles, however I rarely use it, the KR-5 is light and nice to use.

I would suggest to avoid the Ricohs that had the first generation lcd meter display. For example the KR-10, meter display is difficult to see.
The XR-2 has analog needles, much more visible.
09-23-2013, 12:28 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by wombat2go Quote
I would suggest to avoid the Ricohs that had the first generation lcd meter display. For example the KR-10, meter display is difficult to see.
The XR-2 has analog needles, much more visible.
The KR-10 Super had an LCD display, the KR-10 had a needle...
09-23-2013, 01:31 PM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
The Pentax K Series KX or KM are very reliable.

Phil.
That would be my first suggestion as well for the Pentax line. The K-series bodies are direct descendants of the long-lived Spotmatic line. In fact, the KM is basically a K-mount Spotmatic with open-aperture metering. I own a KX.

After that I would recommend the ME Super and Super Program, based on the general reliability of their electronic shutters, their feature set, and low price. The general rule of thumb on the electronic shutter cameras is that if they are clean and work at all, it is highly likely that all features work as new and that they will continue to work for a long time into the future. Change the seals and you are good to go. The flip side is when they die, they are generally pretty dead. There is very little to adjust and repair requires a donor body for replacement parts. I own a Super Program.

In regards to the Ricoh products, I must offer a general disclaimer up front. I am the local Ricoh fanboy and have no problem recommending any of their late-70s through early mid-80s bodies. The main problem is keeping the naming straight. Most of the Ricoh cameras of that era were based on two main body types. One has a tall shutter speed dial and the other has a flattened dial. Both have durable vertical travel metal shutters. It is my understanding that the tall dial bodies have mechanical or electro-mechanical shutters while the flat dial bodies have fully electronic shutters.

So far, so good. Here is where things get complex. Ricoh had two main lines. The XR-n cameras tended to be full-featured with the KR-n cameras tending to be less so. The number designation is not a good indicator of the rank or feature set. Both tall dial and flat dial bodies carry both XR-n and KR-n labels. Ricoh mixed and matched features liberally such that I gave up long ago trying to figure out what features are present on what bodies. Did I mention that Sears sold the same cameras with their own naming scheme?

It is enough to say that all feature metal chassis (cast/machined aluminum alloy on the flat dial bodies) with polycarbonate shells. All have durable Copal or Seiko metal shutters. All have bright viewfinders with both microprism and diagonal split image focus aids. The flat dial models are more compact. All are compatible with any K-mount lens ever made that has an aperture ring. As with Pentax, all may be adapted to use M42 screwmount lenses. I can personally vouch for and recommend the models that own, the XR-2s (tall-dial) and XR7 (flat dial). By extension, I feel that the XR-1 (fully manual, equivalent to Pentax KX*), XR-1s and XR-2 (all tall dial) models are also worthy of consideration. All four are sturdy and very low-priced and equal in my mind to similarly featured Pentax models of the same era.

The XR-2s is my "go-to" 35mm film body.

If you find a Ricoh listed for sale, your best resource is probably the Butkus site for camera manuals:

Ricoh Camera instruction manuals

He has most of the manuals for all the Ricoh/Sears variants and the manuals have a table of all supported features.


Steve

* Ok...I admit that the KX has a more sensitive meter, but the XR-1 has faster flash sync. Both cameras have almost identical dimensions, though the Ricoh is lighter.

Note: The tall dial Ricoh bodies with self timers generally have a mechanical mechanism. With time this can become stiff with the result that many of these cameras have broken self-timer levers.
09-23-2013, 01:59 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by wombat2go Quote
I would suggest to avoid the Ricohs that had the first generation lcd meter display. For example the KR-10, meter display is difficult to see.
The XR-2 has analog needles, much more visible.
I am sort of split of this one. I have been taking photos with an XR7 (has the faux needle LCD display) since 1982 and never had an issue with the display. If the light is dim enough that the bar is not visible, chances are that the display would simply show LT or a blinking down arrow anyway (duh). But that is the rub when shooting at high ISO in Av mode, it is not known whether the camera will give the appropriate exposure or simply do the maximum time (16s). It is also an issue when in manual mode. On the other hand, with the analog needle cameras you can't see the needle under those conditions either so you are equally in the dark. (I just checked my XR-2s against the XR7 to be sure.)

One thing in favor of the LCD "faux needle" display is that once the meter is on, the display is active and stays active for several minutes. On many models the analog needle is only active when the shutter is partially depressed.

Bottom line is that I prefer either Ricoh display to the LCD on my Super Program.


Steve

Note: In all fairness, I should point out that the LCD may blank out entirely when using a polarizing filter. It is the nature of the beast.
09-23-2013, 02:34 PM   #14
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So, after reading some horror stories on the ZX-M I told my friend I think I'm not interested in it... I was going to pay shipping for it, but it might still be a waste of money and expensive batteries if the shutter or the rewind mechanism breaks while I'm taking pictures, and it seems like it's a very common thing to happen.

The Super Program looks interesting to me because I would be able to use modern primes like the DA 35mm f2.4 "plastic fantastic" when I get it. That was another reason I kept the now broken A3000, and sold my K1000 just weeks ago...

Or, I might just get another K1000. My friend who bought mine is taking wonderful pictures with it... and then there's a minolta system that I'm looking into as well...
09-23-2013, 02:41 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
because I would be able to use modern primes like the DA 35mm f2.4 "plastic fantastic" when I get it.
Sort of. It will work in P and Tv modes, but that is it.


Steve
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